It's time to vote for the BCB Minor League Player of the Month for July! As always, I pick one player from each team and you vote for who had the best month. The vote is meant to be an award for performance over the month and not a vote on who the best prospect is. But as always, you can vote for whomever you want using your own criteria.
I came very close to changing the rules this week to allow for a second Cougar, Gioskar Amaya, in the balloting, but I worried that would just split the "Cougars" vote and hurt both players' chances. Honestly, I could have done a ballot with five Cougars on it and it might have been stronger than the ballot here. Now if only they had some pitching . . .
The candidates are:
Iowa Cubs left fielder Ty Wright: Wright is a loyal organization soldier, who has been in the Cubs system since 2007 and has never made the majors. For the past four seasons, he's bounced between Tennessee and Iowa, filling in where he's needed and not complaining. He had his best month of this year in July, hitting .275/.347/.418 with two home runs and 13 RBI.
Tennessee Smokies shortstop Javier Baez: I'm sure you already know the "good" part of Baez's July in Tennessee: he hit 11 home runs over 92 at bats in 22 games. The bad news was that he only hit .228 with a .297 OBP and 34 strikeouts. Along with those 11 home runs, he hit three doubles and only seven singles. Baez scored 16 runs and had 21 RBI.
Daytona Cubs first baseman Dustin Geiger: Geiger doesn't get much love in prospect circles because he's a right-handed hitting first baseman, but he's only 21 years old and he's 11th in OPS in the tough hitting environment of the Florida State League. In July, Geiger carried the offense of the D-Cubs, hitting .292/.409/.458 in the month with three home runs in 26 games. The weakness of Daytona's offense is illustrated by him only having nine RBI for the month. Good thing their pitching is so good.
Kane County Cougars first baseman Dan Vogelbach: As I implied, it was a tough call between Vogelbach and Almora for this spot on the ballot, but Vogelbach earned it by finally living up to his tremendous potential in July by hitting an eye-popping .330 with four home runs and 19 RBI in 27 games. He walked more times than he struck out (17 to 12), leading to a .417 OBP. His slugging percentage for the month was .500. As always, he's worth a trip to Geneva to see him. (Assuming you live somewhere in the Chicago area. I wouldn't fly in from Croatia just to see Vogelbach.)
Boise Hawks first baseman Jacob Rogers: Rogers is a guy in Boise pretty much only because he's blocked by other players at first base above him. (Vogelbach, Rock Shoulders, Geiger) Sometime players like that pout and underperform, but not Rogers. Last year, playing for Peoria, he hit home run that broke their scoreboard. For Boise in July, he hit .311 with four home runs and a whopping 25 RBI in 29 games. Rogers kept his OBP over .400 with a .403 month and he slugged .481.
Barret Loux got rocked for seven runs on eleven hits over 5.1 innings. Most of the damage was done in the sixth inning, when he allowed six hit while only retiring one batter. Loux walked two and struck out two.
First baseman Edgar Gonzalez gave Iowa an early 1-0 lead with a home run in the top of the first inning. Gonzalez was 2 for 4 with a walk.
Shortstop Donnie Murphy was 3 for 5 with a double.
The Tennessee Smokies smote the Birmingham Barons (White Sox), 2-1.
Another strong start for Kyle Hendricks, who allowed one run on seven hits over six innings. He struck out four and walked only one.
Hunter Cervenka pitched the final three innings and got his third win. Cervenka allowed only one baserunner, a leadoff walk in the ninth inning. He did not strike out a batter.
The Smokies were trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 7th when first baseman Justin Bour crushed a pitch over the right field wall with the bases empty for his 15th home run of the season. Bour was 1 for 2 with two walks, one of which was intentional.
The score was tied at one in the bottom of the ninth when DH Javier Baez came to the plate with one out and he reached first on an error. He stole second on the next pitch. After Bour was walked intentionally, Barons pitcher Dan Remenowsky hit Smokies third baseman Christian Villanueva to load the bases with one out. Right fielder John Andreoli then hit a chopper between the pitcher and first base that scored Baez and won the game.
Baez was 1 for 4. Villanueva was 0 for 3. Andreoli was 1 for 4.
Rained out. Corey Black's Cubs debut will have to wait a day.
Kane County Cougars
Starter Tayler Scott allowed two runs on seven hits over five innings. Scott struck out three and didn't walk anyone. He did hit a batter.
Andrew McKirahan got the win with two innings of scoreless relief. He allowed only one hit. McKirahan also struck out three and didn't walk anyone.
Left fielder Oliver Zapata hit a solo home run in the third inning. It was his fifth home run this season. Zapata was 1 for 4.
Right fielder Jose Dore's first game with Kane County was a memorable one, as Dore hit a solo home run as part of a five-run sixth inning. He was 1 for 3.
Center fielder Albert Almora was 2 for 4. He scored once and had one RBI.
DH Rock Shoulders was 2 for 3 with a walk and a two-run double in the sixth inning.
The Boise Hawks were all wet against the Everett AquaSox (Mariners), 5-1.
James Pugliese pitched the first five innings and he allowed four runs on nine hits. One of the four runs was unearned. Puliese walked two and struck out one.
The only Hawks run came on a home run by first baseman Jacob Rogers in the top of the eighth inning. Rogers was 1 for 3 with a walk.
Shortstop Danny Lockhart went 2 for 4.